New Lab Fosters Interdisciplinary Research in Engineering and Biology

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New Lab Fosters Interdisciplinary Research in Engineering and Biology

January 13, 2020

On January 13, New York Institute of Technology unveiled the new Biomedical Sciences and Bioengineering (BSB) Laboratory in Theobald Science Center on the Long Island campus.

The 1,000-square-foot interdisciplinary laboratory brings together life scientists from NYIT College of Arts and Sciences and engineers from NYIT College of Engineering and Computing Sciences to tackle some of the toughest scientific problems. Faculty and students, including undergraduates, will work on research ranging from early detection of HIV and Zika viruses, fighting disease-causing pathogenic bacteria, helping water safety professionals visualize hazards and reducing negative environmental impacts from stormwater, to optimizing genetic tools for classifying and tracking animal behavior.

“This integration can offer tremendous opportunities for solving important problems in health sciences and medicine as well as enabling a broad range of applications in diagnostics, sensing, therapeutics, and tissue engineering,” said Babak Beheshti, Ph.D., dean of the College of Engineering and Computing Sciences. “With the substantial growth and expansion of research activities in the Biological and Chemical Sciences Department, as well as the bioengineering program at New York Tech, this lab will be a central component to support the research activities for the faculty and students in these areas.”

Added Dan Quigley, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, “Students are an integral part of our researchers’ work in their labs. We offer special advance courses for seniors so that students can earn credit while working with faculty on their research.”

The opening of the BSB lab will foster collaboration within the university and beyond. “One of the great hopes of putting faculty from different disciplines in the same lab is that new ideas are developed, and, with these, new directions for the use of the lab,” said Quigley. “Often, these new ideas do not come from any formal process but from the normal give-and-take conversation of a shared work space.”

NewYorkTechRepresentativesAndGuestsAtBSBRibbonCutting."

Pictured from left: President Hank Foley, Laura Curran, College of Engineering and Computing Sciences Dean Babak Beheshti, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Daniel Quigley, Barry Greenspan, Provost Junius Gonazales, and New York Tech Vice President of Strategic Communications and External Affairs Nada Anid.

New York Tech President Hank Foley, Ph.D., welcomed guests at the ribbon cutting and emphasized the positive impact the lab will have at the university as well as the region. “Our region is primed to become a center for research and innovation in life sciences, which will lead to great jobs for New York Tech graduates and wonderful opportunities for us to partner with leading life sciences companies and top scientists,” he said. Foley is now a member of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council. Also in attendance were Junius Gonzales, M.D., M.B.A., provost and vice president for Academic Affairs; Barry Greenspan, economic development program administrator with Empire State Development (ESD); Nassau County Executive Laura Curran; and Karen Magovern (B.S. ’79), senior director of lab services at McKesson Laboratory Services.

In their remarks, Curran and Greenspan noted the groundbreaking work New York Tech is doing as well as the positive impact it will have on jobs in the region. “Combining engineering and life sciences research is really critical,” said Curran. “This is a region that is becoming more robust when it comes to research. You’re training for jobs we don’t even know exist yet. Thank you for staying ahead of the curve.” Added Greenspan, “Biotechnology is what the regional council wants to accomplish. Thank you, New York Tech, for making this a reality.”

In 2018, New York State awarded New York Tech $150,000 to create the $750,000 BSB Laboratory through its NYS Empire State Development (ESD) agency, whose primary mission is to promote New York State’s economy and enhance job creation. NYS funding in New York Tech’s lab is an investment for the future, in a well-educated, skilled workforce that will support NYS economic development and competitiveness in a 21st-century global market. 

The research in the BSB lab will focus on four major themes:

  • Point-of-care disease diagnostics and structural biomaterials for bone regeneration (led by Azhar llyas, Ph.D., assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering)
  • Bacteriophages and viruses for their therapeutic effect to treat bacterial infections (led by Bryan Gibb, Ph.D., assistant professor of biological and chemical sciences)
  • Synthetic biology approaches for understanding how nervous systems encode behaviors (led by Navin Pokala, Ph.D., assistant professor of biological and chemical sciences)
  • Fate analysis of emerging contaminants such as PFAS and 1,4-dioxane in water and soil (led by David Nadler, Ph.D., assistant professor of environmental technology and sustainability)